FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Someone at your office had COVID a few days ago and is now back at their desk in the cubicle next to yours. That can’t be okay, can it?
COVID still spreads to an average of 12,000 Floridians a week or more if you count at-home tests. But what exactly does it mean to test positive in Florida now that masks are off and life is back to normal? What are the COVID rules anyway?
The rules for isolating, staying home from work or parties, and masking include a lot of gray areas now that everyone seems ready to move on from the pandemic that ruined past holidays. Official guidelines often differ from unofficial recommendations that individuals and employers follow.
The official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say if you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in your home. You are most infectious during the first five days. You can end isolation after five days if you don’t have symptoms and are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication).
“The CDC says you don’t have to retest after five days, but I find lot of people are coming back to ask for a retest,” said Elyse Roelans, a family nurse practitioner with CVS Minute Clinic in Davie. “People just feel better getting a negative test, and some schools and workplaces require it.”
If you are still sick after five days or your symptoms were more than just mild, the CDC says to isolate through day 10.
Return to work, sick leave
With COVID precautions lifted, employers mostly rely on their workers to stay home if they are sick and to wait until they are symptom-free to return to the workplace.
“Some employers are more stringent about requiring negative results than others,” said Kimberly McNeil, Society of Human Resource Management Knowledge Advisor. “It depends on the type of work and labor constraints.”